2009 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 2009 15:09:51 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] RADIATION, CONTRACTORS: 50 Years after Santa Susana (CA) Nuclear Accident
Wrinkles in Runkle Canyon
50 Years After a Santa Susana Nuclear Accident Holds Up Land Development

By Michael Collins
Los Angeles Weekly
July 23, 2009

All hell was about to break loose at the Sodium Reactor Experiment on July 23, 1959. The reactor, tucked into a corner of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in the Simi Hills 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, was constructed without a radiation-containment dome and was in the 10th day of partial meltdown.

On top of the reactor core, a worker operating a 30-foot-high, lead-lined "coffin," used to extract uranium fuel rods, came across a fuel rod that wouldn’t budge. He started rocking the coffin back and forth, when something went terribly wrong.

"The guy was pulling on the thing real hard, and it was stuck in the reactor," says John Pace, 70, the last known surviving lab worker present during the meltdown. A chemical known as Tetralin "made a bunch of goo in the bottom of a pool and the rods were damaged. Then the goo freed up and they went, 'What the hell happened there?'"


For the entire article, see


Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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